Somme sand dunes
Large expanses of rising sand dunes and cliffs mark the coast around the Somme Bay. There is also the promenade lined with Belle Époque beach huts in Cayeux-sur-Mer, the fishing port of Crotoy and the medieval town of St-Valery-sur-Somme to explore. Located around 90 minutes’ drive south of Calais, Belle Dune Holiday Village is a lovely collection of pastel-colored holiday homes with swimming pools, activities and shops on site.
Rent a one-bedroom house for a week for £ 5,950 in August. Travel to France not included. Free cancellations if the French or British government restricts travel, pierreetvacances.com.
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Make a splash in the north
Located in the Avesnois Regional Natural Park near the Belgian border – about a three-hour drive from Calais – Lake Val-Joly offers liquid refreshments away from the crowds of the Côte d’Azur. Surrounded by agricultural land and forests, nautical activities include canoeing, sailing, stand up paddle and electric boats. On land, there are acrobatic courses, hiking trails and horse riding.
In summer, France offers a week of cottages in the Valjoly Cottages from £ 92 per person for a property that can accommodate four people in August. Travel to France is not included. Free cancellations up to one week before arrival, summerfrance.co.uk.
If you are looking for isolation in the Dordogne woods, you will find it at Covert Cabin. The three cabins are near a lake and, although peaceful, there is plenty to do nearby – cycling to the village bakery, canoeing on the river, mountain hiking, rafting on the lake, barbecue and stargazing , just to start. It is about a five hour drive from Le Havre, eight from Calais and is located in the Périgord-Limousin Regional Natural Park, with its limestone plateaus, cliffs and rivers.
Cabins from € 65 (£ 59) per night in August, minimum stay of three nights. Refunds offered for cancellations related to Covid, covertcabin.com.
On the way to the Opal Coast
Calais is the starting point for many car journeys in France, but its surroundings deserve a vacation in itself. Stretching from Bray-Dunes to Berck-sur-Mer, the Opal Coast is home to miles of sandy beaches and pretty fishing villages. There is the Belle Époque seaside resort of Le Touquet, the fishing boats and the fortified town of Boulogne-sur-Mer, not to mention the views from the beaches and cliffs of Cap Blanc-Nez and Cap Gris-Nez just outside. outside Calais.
Nouvelle Étable is an elegant rental for 8 people in Renty, near Le Touquet and Boulogne-sur-Mer, for £ 630 per week in July. Travel to France not included. Credit refund notes or a new reservation offered for cancellations related to Covid, french-country-cottages.co.uk.
The town of Messac, about 90 minutes south of the port of Saint-Malo, is the start of a sweet adventure along the Vilaine and the Nantes-Brest canal. Stop at locks and riverside villages or rent bikes to explore towpaths, local markets, cathedrals, castles and gardens.
One-week round trips from Messac start at £ 1,049 in July for a one-cabin cruiser that can accommodate three people. Travel to France not included. Reservations may be changed for alternative travel until 2021 for Covid reasons up to 48 hours before departure, leboat.co.uk.
Siblu’s newest vacation park, Les Viviers in Lège-Cap-Ferret, has its own beach and direct access to the beautiful sandy Arcachon Bay. Accessible from Bilbao (less than four hours by road) or Bordeaux (one hour), it also has its own lake for water sports, cycle paths through pine forests and easy access to the largest sand dune in ‘Europe, in Pilat. Accommodation includes cabins, mobile homes and tent pitches, and there is an outdoor pool, bar and restaurant.
A week’s vacation from £ 896 in July in a two-bed mobile home. Travel to France or Spain not included. Reservations can be changed up to two weeks before departure and refunded for reasons related to Covid, siblu.com.
A remarkable city
The Remarkable France campaign by the French tourist office highlights treasures rich in heritage that keep visitors away from jars of honey and encourage slow travel. Among the 19 destinations is St Jean d’Angely in Aquitaine, about four and a half hours south of Saint-Malo. Medieval houses are found among 18th century mansions in the city, which also houses a royal abbey (on the pilgrimage route of the French way) on the banks of the Boutonne. The town of Cognac is nearby.
There are several independent holiday homes, or gites, in the area, including Borderies in the village of Les Nouillers. He sleeps two in the converted outbuildings of a 17th century house. One week from € 745 (£ 673). Travel to France not included. Contact the cottage owners directly for policies related to Covid, gites-de-france.com.
A bubble break
Take your bubble in a bubble in the Haut-Jura Regional Natural Park, near Geneva and the Swiss border in the Pays de Gex (en.paysdegex-tourisme.com). There are hikes and mountain biking through the meadows to practice at Domaine Les Géorennes in the Jura mountains, between mountain villages.
Located in a wooded valley, the campsite has yurts and teepees, but more bizarre are the clear bubbles, installed in private clearings and each sleeping two. £ 150 a night B&B, lesgeorennes.com.
Les Grands Reflets is a haven of tranquility near the Swiss border, between Belfort, Mulhouse and Basel. The off-grid cabins overlook a small lake, while the cabins float on the water and can accommodate between two and five people; each comes with a whirlpool. Activities include hiking and fishing, or drifting in the water in a rowing boat. Alsace is accessible by car.
Cabins from € 165 (£ 149) B&B. Travel to France not included. Rebooking linked to Covid offered, oneoffplaces.co.uk.
Join the Parisians in the Perche
This serene landscape of regional natural park is located between Normandy and the Loire Valley, less than two hours drive from Caen. It is a tapestry of oak, beech and ash trees, cycle and hiking trails, elegant houses and well-kept gardens. The region is a privileged escape for Parisians and is renowned for its Percheron horses.
Perche dans Le Perche is a tree house in the park and can accommodate two people. It costs £ 630 for four nights in August. Travel to France not included, canopyandstars.co.uk.
An escape into the estuary
Pays de la Loire
With extensive beaches nearby, it’s easy to find space on the Atlantic coast at Saint-Brevin-les-Pins on the Loire estuary. Located two and a half hours drive south of Saint-Malo, the site is a collection of contemporary mobile homes, with a communal pool, a food market, a restaurant and a bar. The 900 km Loire à Vélo cycle path ends here, offering kilometers of flat trails to explore, and it is also on the Vélodyssée coastal road between Brittany and the Basque Country.
A week in August from € 1,008 (£ 910) for six people. Travel to France not included. Rebooking linked to Covid offered, sunelia.com.
A taste of Troyes
Crowds of champagne flock to Reims, but the town of Troyes is a pleasant alternative and a good base from which to explore the vine-covered countryside and historic houses of the region. There are colorful, wood-paneled houses, a single-tower cathedral, and pretty squares where you can sit with a coffee and soak up the historic architecture. Troyes is about a four hour drive from Calais.
Champagne Travel offers two nights in Troyes from € 360 pp (£ 325) including two tasting circuits but no trip to France, champagnetravel.eu/trips.
Walks in the Loire Valley
The Loire Valley was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site 20 years ago, thanks to its Renaissance remains and monuments. Admire the majestic castles and vineyards at a relaxed pace during a self-guided walking holiday. Departing from the Chaumont River, it stops at a different hotel each night, with bags transported in advance. The ports of Saint-Malo and Caen are around four hours away.
One week for £ 975 pp in August, excluding travel to France. Trips affected by Covid can be transferred to a later date or a refund credit note offered, responsibletravel.com.
Flee to the trees
Travel to Picardy, about a two and a half hour drive east of Dieppe and 45 minutes from Paris, to find this peaceful escape in the trees. The cabins are a cut above, each in height, hugging its own large oak. Some come with a Nordic bath on the terrace, others are sprawling and can accommodate a family. The nearby Raray Castle was the scene of the adaptation of Beauty and the Beast by Jean Cocteau. Chantilly is also close.
Cabins from 210 € per night in July and August, B&B. Travel to France not included. New reservation linked to Covid, cabanesdesgrandschenes.com.
Raise a glass
Haute Marne, known for its basketry and cutlery heritage, is carpeted with forests and dotted with lakes. Explore by bike from the elegant three-bedroom stone house in the grounds of Château Beaucharm, surrounded by meadows between Champagne, Burgundy and Chablis. The independent house also has its own gardens and the nearest town is known for its thermal springs.
For eight people, one week rental from £ 1,002. Travel to France not included. Rebooking linked to Covid offered, oliverstravels.com.
How Channel Hop This Summer
The Shuttle opened its passenger terminal at Folkestone on Wednesday, following a surge in bookings after the government’s initial announcement of the quarantine waivers the previous week.
John Keefe, Director of Public Affairs for Eurotunnel said: “We … had more customers accessing our online booking system [last] weekend than ever. ”
The 35-minute ride offers a contactless crossing during which travelers stay in their cars. Refreshments can also be ordered in advance to be delivered to passenger vehicles. The service provider also offers a fully refundable standard ticket option. Trips cost from £ 78 one way per car for up to nine passengers in September, to reach £ 143 in August.
Weekdays are cheaper and currently have reasonable availability during the summer.
Deborah Merrens, Commercial Director of Eurotunnel, warned: “there is a lot of pent-up demand, which means that we expect the coming months to be busier than ever, both indoors and outside the term. “
Ferry operators adapt their services, with face masks now compulsory on board, free booking changes offered by most operators, reduced passenger capacity and staggered embarkation / disembarkation on DFDS services and crossings reserved for vehicles on the Dover-Calais route from P&O.
Brittany Ferries is also boarding and disembarking breathtakingly, making seat or cabin reservations mandatory.
Improved cleaning with virucidal products takes place between the crossings and the hand sanitizers placed around the ships for passengers. Some on-board services, such as bars, remain closed but stores are reopening largely with social distancing requirements in place and catering served by appraising staff rather than self-service. Industry organization Discover Cruises has launched a Ferry Safe campaign detailing the changes (Discoverferries.com/campaigns/ferrysafe).
Face masks are compulsory on Eurostar trains and in terminals, all other seats being left empty on board. Food and beverage sales have been suspended, but you can bring your own. Special assistance should be booked in advance.
France – the rules
- Social distancing: up to 10 people can meet in any public place; gatherings of more than 10 people are allowed in private.
- Social distancing: 1m and more. Wear a face mask when this is not possible.
- Face masks: compulsory at airports, stations, taxis and public transport for anyone aged 11 and over, with fines for non-compliance.
- Restaurants, cafes and bars: open “with appropriate measures”.
- Shops and outdoor markets: mostly open. Mandatory masks in stores if traders require it.
- Attractions: reopening. The Eiffel Tower is open, the Louvre will open on July 6 and Disneyland Paris will reopen on July 15. The swimming pools, places of entertainment, leisure parks, theme parks, cinemas, theaters, gymnasiums and sports centers have reopened.